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Putting Items on the Windows 7 Desktop

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The desktop is a convenient location for either permanent or temporary storage of items. Many folks use the desktop as a home for often-used documents and program shortcuts. I’m quite fond of using the desktop as an intermediary holding tank when moving items between drives or computers, or to and from removable media. It’s particularly good for pulling found items out of a search window or other folder while awaiting final relocation elsewhere. Here are some quick helpful notes about using the desktop:

• You can send a shortcut of an object to the desktop very easily by right-clicking it and choosing Send To, Desktop (thus creating the shortcut).

• The desktop is nothing magical. Actually, it’s just another folder with a few additional properties. Prime among them is the option to have live, active, Internet-based information on the desktop using Windows gadgets, such as stock tickers, weather reports, and the like.

• Each user on the machine can have his or her own desktop setup, with icons, background colors, screen saver, and such.

• Whatever you put on the desktop is always available by minimizing or closing open windows, or more easily by clicking the Show Desktop button on the far right of the taskbar. It is for just this reason that almost every application enables you to save files directly to the desktop, and many programs default to saving files on the desktop. Keep in mind that some items cannot be moved onto the desktop—only their shortcuts can. (For example, if you try to drag a Control Panel applet to the desktop, you’ll see a message stating that you cannot copy or move the item to this location.)

If you want to be able to access a Control Panel applet from the desktop, you have only one choice: create a shortcut to the applet and place it on the desktop. However, in other cases, when you’re copying and moving items, particularly when using the right-click method, you’ll be presented with the options of copying, moving, or creating a shortcut to the item. What’s the best choice? Here are a few reminders about shortcuts:

• They work just as well as the objects they point to (for example, the program or document file), yet they take up much less space on the hard disk. For this reason, they’re generally a good idea.

• You can have as many shortcuts scattered about for a given object as you want. Therefore, for a program or folder you use a lot, put its shortcuts wherever you need them—put one on the desktop, one on the Taskband, one on the Start menu, and another in a folder of your favorite programs on the desktop.

• Make up shortcuts for other objects you use a lot, such as folders, disk drives, network drives and printers, and web links. From Internet Explorer, for example, drag the little blue E icon that precedes a URL in the Address bar to the desktop, to save it as a shortcut. Clicking it brings up the web page.

• The link between shortcuts and the objects they point to can be broken. This happens typically when the true object is erased or moved. Clicking the shortcut can result in an error message. In Windows 7, this problem is addressed in an ingenious way. Shortcuts automatically adjust when linked objects are moved. The OS keeps track of all shortcuts and attempts to prevent breakage. Shortcut “healing” is built into Windows 7 for situations in which the automated recovery mechanism fails.

• If you’re not sure about the nature of a given shortcut, try looking at its properties. Right-click the shortcut and choose Properties. Clicking Find Target locates the object that the shortcut links to and displays it in a folder window.


Remember that shortcuts are not the item they point to. They’re aliases only. Therefore, copying a document’s shortcut to a floppy or a network drive or adding it as an attachment to an email doesn’t copy the document itself. If you want to send a document to some colleagues, don’t make the mistake of sending them the shortcut unless it’s something they’ll have access to over the LAN or Web. If it’s a shortcut to, say, a word processing document or folder, they’ll have nothing to open.


To quickly bring up the Properties dialog box for most objects in the Windows GUI, you can highlight the object and press Alt+Enter.


Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth (09-2009)

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